How many different types of coughs are there? Technically, the answer to this question depends on who you ask, as it’s generally agreed that there are at least ten different types of coughs, but some experts will tell you that there are as many as 50 different types of coughs. Understanding which one you have can help you treat and manage the cough more effectively, so let’s look at the various types of coughs and what each type means when it comes to treatment.
Chronic coughs are common among aging adults and can be caused by many things. Postnasal drip is the most common cause of chronic cough in aging adults, where mucus backs up into your throat or sinuses. A sinus infection can also cause a chronic cough and smoking cigarettes or having a sensitivity to air pollution and strong odors. Other causes of chronic cough include acid reflux disease (GERD), asthma, and lung infections like pneumonia or tuberculosis.
The most common type of cough in aging adults is a wet, productive cough that occurs when fluid from your lungs drips down into your windpipe. This fluid can irritate and inflame your throat and lower respiratory tract, resulting in coughing. When you have a wet cough, expect it to produce thick mucus that may be tinged with blood. The mucus usually has a green or yellow color caused by infection or something irritating your lungs, such as cigarette smoke.
The term dry cough may seem misleading, as all coughs have some degree of dryness. However, you experience little or no mucus production with your cough with a dry cough. A dry cough is less likely to be related to infection than other types of coughs, so you can manage it at home by drinking plenty of fluids and using over-the-counter antihistamines. You also can ease your symptoms by placing a humidifier in your bedroom and adding moisture to your nose and throat through steam inhalation.
Paroxysmal cough is a sudden, spasmodic cough that usually lasts less than 10 minutes. It can be triggered by an allergy or other physical cause, such as asthma or postnasal drip. The person with a paroxysmal cough may have more than one coughing attack a day. Most of these coughing spells occur in the early evening and at night when people are relaxed and breathing normally.
Night cough is a common affliction for older people because their bodies are trying to rest, not cough. For some, though, night cough can also mean they have something more serious like asthma or lung cancer. According to WebMD, night cough is caused by mucus and phlegm getting stuck in your throat and airways during sleep. If you’re suffering from night cough, get help immediately by contacting your doctor or going to a local urgent care center. It could be a sign of something much worse than a dry throat.
The type of cough is not something you will have to worry about too much unless you fall under one of those rare categories. Remember, no matter what kind of cough is going on, if it lasts more than a few days, persists in coming back again and again, or becomes more severe, your best bet is to see a doctor or seek help from experts. There’s no need to mess around with these things!